I was upset with the Dalai Lama today. While I have immense respect for him, I believe that, as a spiritual leader, he acted irresponsibly today via a Twitter post. In case you can’t see my attached snapshot of his tweet, this is what he said:
“As human beings we need to assess whether anger has any value – it destroys our peace of mind. Compassion, on the other hand, brings optimism and hope.”
While I’m a huge fan of compassion, and while I believe that our world is desperately in need of a whole lot more of it, I have to say that suggesting that we question the “value” of any of our emotions is a dangerous path. We’ve already been walking that path via the happiness / positivity movement, and it’s a huge part of what is getting us human beings into so much trouble right now.
Every human emotion has value. The thought that any emotion is either “good” or “bad” is causing all kinds of problems for us, including mental health issues, relationship issues, societal conflict and ultimately violence. No emotion is inherently good or bad – it is what we DO with it that determines whether its effect on ourselves and the world around us is either positive or negative.
By denying any aspect of ourselves, we create an imbalance. Internal imbalance creates struggle (as the Dalai Lama himself has said many times over) and internal struggle creates external struggle. So the best remedy for bringing compassion into our world is through showing compassion for ourselves, which means embracing, accepting and allowing all that we are – light and dark, positive and negative, masculine and feminine. All of the aspects of who we are.
Anger, when used well, is an excellent motivator. It is a fuel, an engine for survival and for change. Without it, the human rights that we’ve fought so hard for over thousands of years would not have been won. In fact, we should be angry. If you’re looking around at what’s happening in the world, and it doesn’t make you angry, you’re not really looking. We can use that anger to fuel positive change. We can channel it, funnel it, use it to make our world a better place. Anger is not destructive when it is recognized, accepted, embraced, and channelled appropriately. It is only when we refuse it, deny it, bury it, subjugate it, feel shame and hate for it, that it becomes a destructive mechanism.
Love can be as equally destructive a mechanism if used improperly. And compassion when used in too great a measure at the wrong moment, can make us lie down and get run over. We must, of course, use what is inside of us wisely. But all of it is designed to be used and experienced and valued for what it gives us.
I am saddened at the prospect that a valued spiritual leader would suggest to anyone, especially his followers, that any part of them is substandard or undeserving of respect. In my opinion, that is in opposition to creating the inner peace of which he speaks. In order to make peace within ourselves, we need to accept ALL that we are.